Thursday, January 15, 2009

me stuff: choosing your thoughts

from the book : "eat pray love" by elizabeth gilbert

a radical new thought just came to my attention recently. something related to how broody i can get occasionally and how some things get fixated in my mind and have been and i want them out. this is a page that stuck out in the fascinating read this morning.

"He said, "Groceries, you need ot learn how to select your thoughts justthe same way you select what clothes you're gonna wear everyday. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you cant learn to master your thinking, you're in deep trouble forever."

On first glance, this seems a nearly impossible task. Control your thoughts? instead of the other way around? But imaging if you could? this is not about repression or denial. Repression and denial set up elaborate games to pretend that negative thoughs and feelings are not occuring. What Richard is talking about it instead admitting to the existence of negative thoughts, understanding where they came from and why they arrived, and then - with great forgiveness and fortitude- dismissing them. This is a practice that fits hand-in-glove with any psychological work you do during theraphy. You can use the shrink's office to understand why you have these destructive thoughts in the first place: you can use spiritual exercises to help overcome them. Its a sacrifice to let them go, of course. Its a loss of old habits, comforting old grudges and familiar vignettes. Of course this all takes practice and effort. Its not a teaching that you can hear once and then expect to master immediately. Its constandt vifilance and I want to do it. I need to do it, for my strength. Devo Farmi le ossa is how they say it in Italian. "I need to make my bones."

So i've started being vigilant about watching my thoughts all day and monitoring them. I repeat this vow about 700 times a day: I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore" Everytimer a dimishing thought arises, i repeat the vow. I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore. The first time i heard myself say this, my inner ear perked up at the word "habour:, which is a noun as well as a verb. A habour of course is a place of refuge, a port of entry. I pictured the harbour of my mind - a little beat up, perhaps a little storm-worn, but well situated and with nice depth. The harbor of my mind is an open bay, the only access to the island of my Self (which is a young and volanic island, yes, but fertile and promising). This island has been through some wars, it is true, but now its committed to peace, under a new leader (me) who has instituted new policies to protect the place. And now let the word go out across the seven seas - theyre are much stricter laws on the books about who may enter this harbor.

You may not come here anymore iwth your hard and abusive thoughts, with your plague ships of thoughts with your slave ships of thoughts with your warships of thoughts - all will be turned away. Likewise, any thoughts that are filled with angry or starving exiles with malcontent, pamphleteers, mutineers and violent assassins, desperate prostitutes, pimps and defitious stowaways - you may not come here anymore, either. Cannibalistic thoughts, for obvious reasons, will no longer be received. Even missionaries will be screened carefully for sincerity. This is a peaceful harnour, the entryway to a fine and proud island that is now beginning to cultivate tranquility. If you can abide by these new laws, my dear thoughts, you are welcome in my mind - otherwise i shall turn you all back towards the sea from whence you came.

this is my mission, and it will never end" 

i like this idea. i don't feel like i need to be as extreme cos obviously im not as battered and not have been through as much drama as she has. plus the one unhealthy evil that keeps popping into mine is not even really vaguely related to me. just bugs me. so away you go! you definitely don't deserve a place in my mind and my life.. i wish you the worst. (yikes! wassup with the malice, girl.. i guess after this i still have more to work on) 

but i pray that i will keep to this. just remember 'i will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore' :) this book is wonderful and came just at the right time. thank you, daniel for helping me lug this home.


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